If you’re aiming for a job in a creative industry, you already know you’re in for a tough time. Jobs are scarce and when you actually land one, security and salaries are both woefully low. Creative jobs are incredibly fun and satisfying – but the hours are long, the competition is rough and the talent is often viewed as dispensable.
The bad news is, I have no solution to any of these problems. The good news? I can help you get your job interview outfit in check. It seems like a really small factor in the grand scheme of finding and keeping your dream job – and it is – but in this economy, every little piece of advice helps. It goes without saying that you should look professional for any job interview, but you can’t exactly show up to a job interview at, say, Vogue in a power suit. Which means that ladies who would rather push magazines than stocks are out of luck when it comes to scouring traditional job interview dress code pieces.
Back in college when I started interviewing for magazine internships, my friends used to tell me that instead of sporting business attire I should look “trendy” for my interviews. But honestly, I feel like this is the worst piece of advice for any kind of job interview. Trying to hard to work multiple trends into one look is just never a good idea – and at a job interview, it can leave you seeming less than polished. After all, you want to look put-together, but your work ethic is more important than your wardrobe. So pass up on the peplum top and focus instead on giving job interview staples a slight tweak.
I still remember my first magazine job interview. It was at Maxim, I was 19 and to be quite honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I can recall exactly what I wore that day: A black chiffon button-down with ruffles along the cap sleeves, tucked into a black pencil skirt, black pointy-toe pumps and – for some inexplicable reason – a huge mustard-colored tote bag with a big bow on the strap. I don’t know, maybe I was trying to show some hometown pride? Regardless, the whole look was just so costume-y, like I was trying way too hard to look the part of a fashionable corporate girl. I’ve learned quite a bit in the past few years. Now I keep it simple every time I go to a job interview or business meeting. Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it.
Shift dresses: If the weather is nice a shift dress is not only comfortable and professional-looking, it’s also an easy one-piece outfit that you can use to show some personality. Opt for a printed version to make an impact – but keep the rest of your look simple if you do this. The great thing about shift dresses is that they’re never too short or tight. And if it’s cold out, you can always layer one over tights and a black turtleneck.
Black pants: This is a no-brainer – every women should have a pair of great-fitting black pants for when denim won’t cut it. If you’re an accountant, these can be trousers. If you’re looking for a job in a slightly younger, more style-concious industry, though, make them skinny pants. If you get the right pair of pants, the rest of it is so easy. Just add a pair of pumps and a button-down and you’re good to go. Speaking of…
Top it off: An oxford isn’t quite right for this purpose; you’re better of wearing a silk top (I love this one.) It isn’t a button-down, but I also think this simple white top from Joie would be perfect. Honestly, pretty much anything Joie makes is right on the mark for your creative industry job interview. My go-to top is pale pink with slightly flared cuffs. The fit, color and sleeves give this top a little personality, but the silhouette is classic job interview attire.
The perfect pumps: Stick to the single-sole variety, not the towering platforms (think this over this.) Never, ever expose toes at a job interview (or at the office after you’ve landed the job.) Keep your footwear simple and elegant and make sure you’re not tripping all over the place. If you’re not comfortable in heels, a pair of comfortable loafers or oxfords work well. They’re a little more stylish than ballet flats but just as practical. If it’s cold out, you can’t go wrong with chocolate leather riding boots or a classic black bootie.
Accessories: A watch is always a great idea – beyond that, a pair of classic stud earrings or maybe a simple necklace is all you need by way of jewelry. Avoid carrying a handbag that screams “designer!” in favor of an understated carryall that slings over your shoulder (don’t walk into an interview balancing your bag in the crook of your elbow, it can make you look like you’re style over substance) and is big enough to hold a copy of your resume.
And that’s it! Feel free to use these tips anytime you have an interview at a company that has any sort of fashion focus – whether it’s at a design house, magazine, PR firm, store, whatever. I’d love to see what you wear to your next interview so tweet me a shot @statementscene and stay tuned for a guide to doing your makeup for the same type of interview.